Two Oak Harbor High School seniors earn ROTC scholarships

Two Oak Harbor High School seniors with the goals of a military career received major scholarships to college.

James Hart earned a $130,000 Army Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship to the The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina.

Lawrence Zapanta earned a $200,000 Navy ROTC scholarship to Texas A&M University.

Both students have lived in Oak Harbor their entire lives and have known from a young age that they wanted a military career. They said they were inspired by family members to join the Armed Forces.

Zapanta’s older brother is in the Air Force. He said he wants to study aerospace engineering and hopes to become a pilot in the Navy.

Both of Hart’s grandfathers and his father served in the Navy. He thought of following in their footsteps by becoming a sailor, but figured his career goal of becoming an engineer was better suited to the Army. He wants to study mechanical engineering and hopes to someday work with the Army Corps of Engineers.

He was excited to share the news with his parents when he learned he’d received the scholarship.

“Basically, I fell out of my chair,” Hart said before running to tell them.

He and Zapanta both credited the high school’s NJRTOC instructors ret. U.S. Navy Cmdr. Vincent Quidachay and Chief William Thiel, for helping them with their post-graduation aspirations.

“Over the years of my ROTC experience, both of them have taught me and given me all of the opportunities that allowed me to really distinguish myself from other applicants,” Hart said.

Zapanta agreed.

“He’s really pushing us and helping all of the people who want to do it,” he said of Quidachay.

His parents also played a pivotal role.

“Knowing that they support me and everything really helps me stay motivated and have the confidence to pursue what I’m planning,” Zapanta said.

Both students said they will leave for college in August.